Yes, I have New Yorker friends who know how to handle a vehicle, and swim too, but they are not in the majority. I am in the majority. I didn't learn how to drive a car until I moved down here to South Florida. Now I can drive pretty much unruffled through any condition (although I don't like to drive at night). But, swimming? Nuh uh. Can't do it.
It took me years to learn how to float. It seems like an easy enough thing to do, but try telling that to an adult past their late 20's who doesn't know how. If I had three wishes to be granted, one of them would be the ease with which one picks things up as a kid.
I've taken swimming lessons before, too. When I lived in Philadelphia, I briefly had a wonderful personal trainer whose name I think was Sean. He was first-generation Irish, complete with the brogue.
Sean taught me a lot about physical fitness; he was also the first person who tried to teach me how to swim. We were making good progress; what little I do know now I owe to him. One day, he announced him and his soccer team were going to Brazil for a competition. He was straight, and young, and Caucasian. I've lived in Brazil, I know how Brazilian women would flock to men just like him; they'd treat him like a superstar.
I told him he'd fall in love with Brazil and never come back. He never did. My swimming lessons stopped. Now, more than ten years later, I'm at it again. This time it seems the instructor, Frank (who is also a lifeguard) is going to stay put and actually teach me. This is the second week I've been taking classes with him; so far he's taught me very well. I still feel like a frog with a rock tied on its back, but my technique is slowly sucking less.
Yesterday, Frank said something about how many hours of practice it takes for swimming to become natural. So far, I've dedicated about four hours to it. For it to become second nature, Frank says it takes about 50 hours of practice. I guess I know what I'm doing this summer.